CAT Exam Pattern



Register Now for Latest Update - Don't miss it

Updated on
November 13, 2019

Just a few days before CAT 2019 exam which is on November 24, 2019, IIM Kozhikode has released CAT 2019 exam day guide, key features of CAT exam pattern, CAT exam navigation guide to answer MCQ and Non-MCQ questions with important instructions. The CAT exam day guide is released along with CAT Test Day Workflow for Candidates for slot-1 and slot-2 CAT exam. The CAT exam day workflow for CAT 2019 share the important Do’s and Don’ts before, during and after the CAT exam, how to get ready for CAT exam day, and how to go through the key activities from the time of entering the CAT exam centre to leaving the testing hall. According to IIM Kozhikode, candidates must report to the CAT center at least 30 minutes before the CAT exam commencement time. No candidate is allowed to wear jackets, jewellery, shoes, watch or carry the mobile phone, bag, wallets, electronic gadgets, stationary items inside the testing hall. Read all details


CAT exam pattern 2019 may bring more surprises on the exam day on November 24, 2019.  CAT Exam pattern 2019 and its difficulty level is expected to change this year as reflected in the official practice test with fewer number of No-Penalty questions,  released by IIM Kozhikode.  More than a month before the CAT exam, IIM Kozhikode has released the tutorial to understand the format of CAT 2019 Test and question pattern on the CAT 2019 website on October 16, 2019. 


CAT 2019 will be held on November 24, 2019 as a computer based test of 3 hours duration in Morning and afternoon slots in 156 cities in India. The officially released CAT pattern has revealed the correct CAT 2019 exam pattern and type of questions with number of changes. 

Check Here Your accurate CAT Percentile immediately after CAT 2019 Exam on CAT Percentile Predictor

5 Key Highlights of CAT 2019 Pattern

Some of the key highlights and changes in CAT 2019 exam pattern are:    

CAT Mock Test

CAT exam pattern which carries slight changes for CAT 2019, has gone with perceptible changes since 2014 not only in CAT structure but also in content. Going by the tradition in changes in different type of questions in CAT, you cannot rule out a different CAT 2019 Exam pattern.  However, despite number of changes brought about during last 4 years in CAT exam pattern, the basics of the CAT exam have not changed. CAT exam pattern since 2015 has remained on the same lines. CAT 2019 exam pattern is also expected to remain as per the last 4 years CAT pattern, although there could be some minor changes in number and type of questions and their sectional composition.  To make sure to bell the CAT 2019 with high score you need to begin your CAT exam preparation 2019 without waiting any longer.


As per the revised CAT exam pattern 2019, CAT 2019 will consist of 3 sections with a total of 100 questions. Each section is timed with the individual time limit of 1 hour. You need to ensure high score in each of the 3 sections as there is also a sectional score cut off in IIMs for shortlisting.


CAT Pattern

CAT Pattern 2019 

  • Total Questions: 100
  • Number of sections: 3
  • Questions with negative marking (MCQs): 70 to 75
  • Questions without negative marking (Non-MCQs): 25 to 30
  • Score awarded for each correct answer: 3 marks
  • Negative marking (Applicable for  wrong answers in MCQs): -1 mark

CAT 2019 pattern: Sectional composition

Section name
Total questions
Total MCQs (With negative marking)
Total Non-MCQs (Without negative marking)
Total maximum marks
24 to 27
7 to 10
23 to 27
7 to 11

*VARC: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

*DILR: Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

*Quant: Quantitative Ability


Is the CAT online test? Responding to this query IIMs, although accept that CAT paper pattern is computer based but whether CAT is online test, they say ‘No.’ Regarding the CAT exam pattern, IIMs say “CAT is not an online exam. It is a digital or Computer Based Test (CBT); not an Internet-Based Test (IBT); that is, a candidate will not take the exam on an internet site. Instead of reading the questions in a paper booklet and darkening the ovals on the answer-sheet, a candidate will read the questions on a computer terminal and choose an answer by clicking on the correct option.”

So the CAT exam pattern 2019, despite being a computer based exam, will not be an online exam. Sharing the key difference and USPs of CAT exam pattern, IIMs further elaborate “In the computer-based format, the candidate reads a question on a computer terminal and clicks on the correct answer. Additionally, the timer on the computer screen tells you the remaining time to complete the current section.” 

Admission Notification​ | Apply Now
IFIM Bangalore, PGDM Admission 2020 Open
Ambedkar University Delhi, MBA Admissions 2020
Globsyn Business School, PGDM Admissions Open
Jaipuria Institute of Management, PGDM 2020 AIMS Institutes Bangalore, MBA Admission 2020
DSB, VIPS-TC Delhi, PGDM Admission 2020 JKBS Gurgaon, PGDM Admission 2020

CAT 2019 Exam pattern: Sections, sub-sections, Expected difficulty level
CAT exam pattern was totally revamped by IIM Ahmedabad in 2015 and since then CAT exam pattern has followed the same CAT pattern for all the 3 sections. The key features of CAT 2019 sectional exam pattern are:


VARC: 1st section

  • Total questions: 34
  • MCQs: 24 to 27
  • Non-MCQs: 7 to 10
  • RC passages: 5
  • RC Based questions (All MCQs): 24
  • VA questions (Mix of MCQs & non-MCQs): 10
  • LOD: Moderate to Very difficult
  • Section Highlights:
  • No Grammar or vocabulary based questions since 2015
  • Verbal Ability questions remain confined to 3 topics only – Jumbled paragraph; Para summary; picking the odd sentence out of the jumbled sentences

DILR: 2nd section

  • Total questions: 32
  • MCQs: 28
  • Non-MCQs: 8
  • Share of DI questions: 16
  • Share of LR questions: 16
  • LoD: Moderate to difficult
  • Section Highlights:
  • Questions appear in set of 4
  • Time crunch is faced by test takers as questions are more time consuming

Quant: 3rd section

  • Total questions: 34
  • MCQs: 23 to 27
  • Non-MCQs: 7 to 11
  • LoD: Moderate to difficult
  • Section Highlights:
  • More questions are on Arithmetic – Percentage, Profit & Loss, Time & speed, Work/days, Compound interest

CAT Exam Pattern 2019: Key facts

  • CAT 2019 exam is Computer based Test (CBT) of 3 hours duration.
  • CAT exam is divided into 3 main sections of 60 minutes each
  • The 3 sections in CAT exam 2019 pattern are – Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC); Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR); Quantitative Aptitute (QA)
  • There will also be sub sections within the 3 sections in revised CAT exam 2019 pattern. For example, the revamped CAT exam pattern for VARC consists of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension sub sections; DILR contains questions on Data Interpretation and Logical reasoning.
  • Candidates are not allowed to move between one section to other during the 1 hour assigned to the particular section.
  • CAT Test takers cannot leave their seats during the exam.
  • MCQs in CAT 2019 exam pattern will need you to pick out 1 correct answer choice out of 4
  • Non-MCQs in CAT exam pattern will require you to type-in the correct answer on the computer screen.
  • There may not be any answer choices for Non-MCQs in revised pattern of CAT 2019.
  • Each correct answer in CAT exam pattern will be awarded 3 marks whether it is MCQ or Non-MCQ
  • Each wrong answer for MCQ in CAT exam 2019 will be imposed penalty of 1/3 negative mark (-1 mark)
  • There will be no penalty of negative marking on wrong answers to Non-MCQs in CAT 2019 exam pattern
  • CAT exam pattern remains on the lines of CAT official Mock test released by IIMs a month before the CAT exam.

CAT Exam Pattern in 2018
Last Year CAT pattern in 2018 exam did not have any surprise element in the test structure of CAT Exam Slot-1 or Slot-2, although it had number of changes but the overall exam pattern was same.


CAT Exam Analysis: Pattern

Total Questions
Non MCQs
Difficulty Level
Moderate to Difficult
Somewhat Difficult

Key changes in exam pattern

  • Total number of Non-MCQ type of questions in CAT had increased to 27 in 2018 as compared to 26 in 2017 with different number of questions in each section.
  • Number of Non-MCQs in VARC section increased to 7
  • RC passages have been reduced to 4 from 5. Each RC passage was followed by 5 questions.
  • Quant section had highest number of 12 Non-MCQs as compared to 10 Non-MCQs.
  • More Arithmetic intensive questions appeared in last year CAT.
  • No change in Scoring pattern. Scoring pattern in CAT remained to +3 for correct answer and -1 for wrong answer for MCQs and +3 for correct answer and 0 negative marking for wrong answer in Non-MCQs
  • Many non MCQS had answer options also. The correct answers had to be typed in the given space.




  • The first section on VARC had 34 questions.
  • Non MCQs were 7 without negative marking
  • 4 RC Passages on Economics & Happiness, Use of Plastic Bags, War Memorial being built in Delhi and others appeared with 25 questions in MCQ format

Most of the candidates found the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) questions more difficult and could not attempt beyond 10 questions out of 32.


Quantitative Ability
Quantitative Ability section despite having highest number of 12 Non-MCQs out of 34 questions was found on slightly higher difficulty side. Geometry part was however, found to be a bit more difficult in 2018 CAT exam.


CAT Pattern: Changes since Computerization

CAT Exam pattern over the past 9 years since it was computerised in 2009 has gone for perceptible changes. CAT paper pattern prior to 2009 was paper-pen based. CAT exam format was changed from paper based exam to CAT online computer based test in 2009. Even after that CAT paper pattern continued changing from 3 sections to 2 and then CAT pattern was changed to 3 sections in 2015. Since then CAT is following similar pattern. CAT 2019 pattern also remains the same as that of CAT exam 2018 pattern with 3 sections and 3 hours time although the number of MCQs and Non-MCQs may change.

Total No of Qs
Difficulty level
Q break up
CAT 2018
VARC-34. RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (2 MCQs, 7 non MCQs)
DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8
Total-34. MCQs 22, Non-MCQs-12
Moderate to High
CAT Pattern in the lines of last year with changes in number of MCQs & non-MCQs in each section
CAT 2017
VARC-34. RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (3 MCQs, 7 non MCQs)
DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8
Total-34. MCQs 23, Non-MCQs-11
CAT Pattern in the lines of last year with changes in non-MCQs in each section
CAT 2016
VARC-34, RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (All non MCQs)
DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8
Quant-34, MCQ-27, Non-MCQs-7
Moderate to difficult
CAT exam pattern on the same lines as of CAT exam pattern 2015 Non-MCQs in Quant reduced.
CAT 2015
VARC -34, RC-24 (MCQs), Verbal-10 (Non MCQs)
DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8
Quant-34, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-10
Moderate to difficult
Time limit increased to 180 minutes; Sectional time constration of 1 hour re-introduced; Non-MCQs without negative marking penalty for wrong answer No questions on error correction and vocabulary.
CAT 2014
50 VARC-34 LR-16
50 Quant-34 DI-16
Moderate to difficult
Test time increased to 170 minutes; Sectional time constrain removed; More questions on error correction; RC questions based on reasoning Overall moderate exam.
CAT 2013
30 10 verbal 10 RC 10 LR
30 DI-10
Moderate to difficult
On the same pattern as last year. No new surprise element.
CAT 2012 
30 (LR 10) 10 verbal 10 RC 10 LR
30 (DI 10)
Moderate to difficult (Difficulty level was more or less maintained to the same level.
Error correction-1 to 2, parajumbles-2, Completion of last sentence of paragraph-2, Out of context Sentence in jumbled paragraph -1 to 2, Fill in the blanks vocabulary words- 1 to 2, Words used in different ways-2, Reading comprehension – three passages with 3 to 4 questions each (Common question in almost all the sessions from 11th Oct.2012 to 6th Nov.2012 – Tone of the author-at least two questions in every session) New or surprise element – Two questions on ‘Out of context sentences in jumbled paragraph’ – Paragraph had to be placed in order and the out of context sentence had to be picked out. Permutations & Combinations, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Mensuration, Number Systems, Modern Maths.
CAT 2011
30(LR 10)
Moderate to difficult-LOD>2
Jumbled sentences, error correction, Vocabulary, RC, grammar Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Mensuration, Number Systems, Modern Maths 
CAT 2010
Moderate to difficult-LOD>2
RC, Grammar, Parajumbles, sentence correction & completion,
Quant was tougher compared to CAT 2009. The areas were more calculation intensive and needed conceptual understanding.
CAT 2009
LOD=2 overall
Sentence rearrangement, Grammar, comprehension, correction of errors, sentence completion, Usage Vocabulary
Number System, Algebra, Mensuration, and Commercial Math.

Read More: CAT 2019 - Exam Date, Registration, Syllabus, Preparation, Books


Short name

Question and Answers

No Questions have been asked yet